So, seriously: should writers blog?

This entry is part 2 of 8 in the series Marketing: blogging

If you’ve been hanging around the blogosphere for a while, you’ve probably heard arguments from every side about whether writers should blog. Yes! No! Maybe!

From the Yes! camp, we hear that writers who are seeking publication should be getting their name out there through a blog. Also, a blog is a great way to connect with future readers and other writers, possibly refine your voice, write every day and build your platform. And look! It doubles as a soap box!

From the No! crowd, the arguments are more diverse. Maybe you don’t have time to write and blog, or maybe your blog voice interferes with your fiction voice.

From the Maybe! crew, the stipulations usually relate to your blog topic: you should blog about X or Y, but never about writing, politics, religion, your family, the color yellow, peanut butter . . .

Every crowd has its good points: blogs are great for connecting with people, but they do take time, and you have to choose your blog topic carefully. But no single crowd has the right answer for everyone—if a blog just isn’t for you, don’t do it! It’s better NOT to blog than to blog beyond badly.

But if a blog is for you, then the Maybe!’s arguments merit a look. Every few months, someone or other proclaims that writers should neverEVERever blog about writing. (The other things, less often.)

The argument is grounded soundly: if our blogs are supposed to be designed to appeal to our future readers, what are the odds that they’ll want to read in-depth posts on the craft of writing? Not so good. Instead, we’re told, we should look for a niche related to our genre if possible. You write Scotland-set time travel romance? Write about the adventures of your kilted husband around town, post photos of your latest trip to the land of the brave, or review the classics of time travel literature.

That is really, really great advice—but once again, it might not be right for everyone.

Case in point: me. When I’m published, knowing the books that I’ve written so far, I have a hard time imagining one single blog niche that will accommodate everything I will write or want to write. They’re mostly in the same, or fairly similar genres, but the topics? All over the place.

I’m a writer and I blog about writing, because I enjoy blogging about writing and talking about writing and teaching about writing. Almost as much as I enjoy writing. Is that wrong?

I’m going to go with no. While my blog will certainly change a little once I’m published, I can’t imagine leaving behind the topic of writing craft forever. I’m always learning new things, and whenever I do that, the first thing I think of is how I can share them.

Rather than looking at my books and my future readers to try to figure out a unique niche that may or may not attract them and may or may not cover everything I’m going to write, I’m thinking more and more about this wisdom on blog niches from author Roni Loren:

So here’s the thing that smacked me over the head when reasearching for this post–readers are a niche. Their niche is BOOKS. They come to you to learn more about the books they love and to get to know you a little bit.

Therefore, I think the published author’s challenge is to write engaging post that show off you and your voice and entice the reader to come back. You don’t necessarily need a big blog theme like you did pre-publication. The theme is YOU and your books. (As my friend Steena Holmes suggested on Twitter the other night, it’s a shift from blogger/author to author/blogger.)

So all of us need to write posts that:

1. Are fun and entertaining.

2. Show off your voice.

3. Offer readers some insight into your personality.

4. Engage the reader in conversation.

5. Relate to your “brand.” —KNOW what would appeal to your readers.–You write funny? Probably should have humor in your posts. I write romance so things like Boyfriend of the Week relate back to who I am as a writer.

And don’t forget about why readers came to you in the first place–books! Don’t be afraid to talk about what you’re reading or what books you love or what books you can’t wait for. My author friend Suzanne Johnson does a fabulous job on her blog Preternatura connecting with readers over books in her genre.

Alternatively, construct an in-depth profile of your audience, what they like and don’t like, what they get out of your books, and brainstorm post ideas that hit those same notes.

But, frankly, if you start a blog about writing—or in many cases, even if it’s not about writing!—a large portion of your readership will be writers. I’m fairly sure most of my blog readers are writers, and I don’t want to lose that segment of my blog audience—regardless of whether they (YOU) buy my books.

The point of blogging is to connect with people, and not all the people your blog connects with will become your readers (and vice versa). And that’s okay—but when it comes to choosing a blog topic that might exclude all of your potential readers is a choice you should make consciously. Can you blog about writing as a published author? Yes—but do try to think about what your readers are coming to your blog for, and try to address them in other posts.

If you hit Roni’s five points above, no matter what your blog topic, then you’re definitely doing something right!

What do you think? Should writers blog? If so, what about?

Photo credits: Blogging with authenticity . . .—Search Engine People Blog;
Blog (detall) by Cristina; I’m not a player . . .—J. Money

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One thought on “So, seriously: should writers blog?”

  1. I enjoy blogging. And I am what I am. What you see is what you get. If that doesn’t appeal to some people, oh well. They probably won’t like my books either.

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